Summer learning activities that kids enjoy

By Kim Buie and Dr. D. Jackson Maxwell

We are well into the summer months. Families are enjoying the weather, and the outdoor activities are abound. While this is the case, as parents, we would be remiss to abandon all learning. The school year will once again be starting before we know it. Here are a few suggestions as to how parents can sneak a little learning in while the family still enjoys the summer break.

My child spends most of the day in the lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Bloom’s Taxonomy describes how learning occurs from the lowest to highest levels of comprehension. For example, reading text and memorizing facts are on the lower end of the learning scale while students who are engaged in discovery and exploratory learning are at the higher end. While all forms of learning are important, higher-level learning skills are those that our children need the most. These higher-level approaches teach children how to think. Children make sense of information by evaluating, analyzing, and then using the information to create their own ideas and beliefs, which are then committed to knowledge.

One of the best ways parents can encourage higher-level thinking is through questioning. Effective questions should be open ended to develop further discussion. For example:

• Instead of telling your children what to think without explanation, allow them to ask why they think something happened. The thinking process stops when you give children the answer.

• By asking your children how they learn something, you gain insight into understanding their thought processes and can help them become aware of their own reasoning skills.

• Asking questions that keep the dialogue going is an effective learning technique when the answers create further questions and discussion.

Games can be another valuable source to encourage higher-level learning. They promote logical thinking, reasoning, planning, and group dynamics. Below is a list of some excellent thinking games:

Qwirkle – An easy to learn game that combines logic and strategy. The goal is to create columns and rows by placing tiles that match colors and shapes.

Rush Hour – This game requires your child to think ahead. The child must shift toy cars around the grid to get their car out of the traffic jam.

Mastermind – The ultimate game of logic. Your child will try to crack their opponent’s code by using deductive reasoning.

Blik Blok – This game helps improve 3-Deminsional thinking skills by using blocks to recreate images.

Set – Your child must be the first to make a set by locating matches that are all the same or all different in four distinct categories.

Summer break provides parents with many opportunities to encourage higher-level thinking. Vacations are a perfect time to not only talk with your children and play games but also to engage in discovery and exploratory learning. While on vacation go geocaching, explore a cave, visit a historic site, take a walking tour, or hike a local, state, or national park. Go beyond just reading to your children or presenting them with facts. Parents need to incorporate higher-level learning from Bloom’s Taxonomy into their daily lives. Use the extra time summer affords your family to go out and discover something new. Everyone will become a bit wiser from the experience!

Kim Buie is a highly accomplished CLUE teacher and National Board candidate at Downtown Elementary School. Dr. D. Jackson Maxwell is a National Board Certified Teacher with over 25 years of educational experience. If you have any questions or comments, please email Dr. Maxwell at: djacksonmaxwell@gmail.com.

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